Top 10 Upcoming Milan Design Week Exhibitions

It’s that time of year again: As the first signs of spring push through the last vestiges of yet another long European winter, the who’s who of the international design industry descends upon Milan for a fair that needs no introduction: Salone del Mobile, a gleaming beacon of inspiration and innovation on the international design calendar.

Now in its 55th edition, the fair boasts over 2,400 exhibitors across over 1,000 events which together turn the city into a veritable festival of creativity for a week. This year, the fair takes places from the 12th – 17th April. We’ll be scoping out the scene over the coming week, but for now, we’ve pulled together a list of 10 of the exhibitions we’re most looking forward to. Maybe we’ll see you there.

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NENDO: MANGA CHAIRS

All images © Kenichi Sonehara

“50 standard chairs are lined up in a grid, each one conjures up a sense of story, and each with a design element from manga.”Iconic Japanese design studio Nendo has created a set of 50 chairs based on the grids, lines and design elements typically used in manga comics. Made from polished stainless steel with a mirror finish, each chair represents a different element of the stories told in manga, from tears and sweat to a speech bubble. “Manga consist of a series of frames on a single sheet of paper that creates a sequence,” says Nendo of their collection “Similarly, 50 standard chairs are lined up in a grid, each one conjures up a sense of story, and each with a design element from manga.”

12–17 April 2016
Facoltà Teologica dell’Italia Settentrionale, Piazza Paolo VI, 6, 20121 Milano

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COS x SOU FUJIMOTO: FOREST OF LIGHT

All images © COS x Sou Fujimoto

COS is well known for its boundary-pushing installations at Milan Design Week, and this year is no exception. The minimal Swedish clothing brand has paired up with renowned Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto to create a spatial installation: a ‘forest of light’ inside a former theater. Cones of light will shine down onto visitors, reacting to their movements as they explore the space. “People meander through this forest, as if lured by the charm of the light,” says Fujimoto of the exhibition. “Light and people interact with one another, its existence defining the transition of the other.”

12–17 April 2016
Via Pietro Mascagni, 8, 20122 Milano

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BIANCOSHOCK: BORDERLIFE INSTALLATION

All images © Biancoshock

Though not part of Design Week itself, these manhole installations created by Milanese artist Biancoshock provide a humbling visual respite for those in need of a quick break from the week’s festivities. Each intervention sees a manhole being turned into a home, complete with wall decorations and accessories, to draw attention to those who are forced to live in highly constricted circumstances. “If some problems can not be avoided, make them comfortable,” says the artist.

Throughout April
Throughout the Lodi District, Milano

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LENSVELT: THE BORING COLLECTION

All images © courtsey of Lensvelt

“We want to give designers the tools to restore the balance between work and play again.”In a reaction to the hype surrounding the Google office space model, which blurs the line between work and play, Dutch furniture company Lensvelt designed a set of ‘boring’ office furniture. The collection, which comprises desks and chairs, an acoustic panel, cabinets, a bin and a clock, embraces simple, unobtrusive designs in muted tones. “When slides, brainstorm mattresses and ping-pong tables started appearing we lost sight of what offices are actually meant for work,” said Lensvelt in a recent interview. “With Boring Collection, we want to give designers the tools to restore the balance between work and play again.”

12–17 April 2016
Ventura Lambrate Design District, Via Giovanni Ventura, 6, 20134 Milano

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IN MY MIND(CRAFT)

All images © MINDCRAFT / Tuala Hjarnø

MINDCRAFT showcases new Danish design and craft, featuring the work of 16 Danish designers, such as Ole Jensen and Rosa Tolnov Clausen, whose works interpret the theme ‘In My Mind’. Curated by Italian-Danish design duo GamFratesi, the exhibition includes a wide variety of contemporary design, ranging from furniture and ornaments to textiles. Organized by the Danish Arts Foundation and the Agency for Culture and Palaces, the exhibition promises to “demonstrate the qualities, potentials and versatility of new Danish craft and design.”

12–17 April 2016
Circolo Filologico Milanese, via Clerici 10, 20121 Milano

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STRUCTURE EXHIBITION

All images © Siren Laudal

The Structure Exhibition in Milan’s Ventura Lambrate district promises to bring together some of the best of contemporary Norwegian design. Contributors from a wide range of disciplines were briefed to design objects inspired by the theme of ‘structure’ or ‘trace’. The range of works – from vases by Engesvik and cutlery by Beller Fjetland to textiles, lamps and candleholders – was curated by Hanna Nova Beatrice, editor of Residence Magazine, along with interior stylists Kråkvik & D’Orazio.

12–17 April 2016
Ventura Lambrate Design District, Via Giovanni Ventura, 6, 20134 Milano

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HEM: ICE CREAM SOCIALS

All images © courtesy of HEM / Max Lamb

Guaranteed to be a crowd-pleaser is Hem’s ice cream socials, centered around British designer Max Lamb’s recent ‘Last Stool Splatter’ set of stools. The stools are each made from a single sheet of spun metal, which is then laquered and hand-splattered with enamel. To match each of the four designs, Gelateria Rigoletto has created four bespoke gelato flavors. The socials, which will honor the Italian tradition of gathering with friends to eat, drink and share stories together, will be hosted by HEM collaborators and friends, such as Philippe Malouin, Karoline Fesser and Studio DeFORM.

12–15 April
Accapiu (H+), via Varese 12, 20121, Milano

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LEE BROOM: SALONE DEL AUTOMOBILE

All images © Lee Broom

“The idea behind the installation is to see something unexpected – a captivating optical illusion.”British designer Lee Broom has taken a flexible approach to his Salone del Mobile exhibition, situating his 1990s-inspired lighting collection in a van that will travel around the city during the course of the week. The grey roadshow van will have the appearance of a regular delivery truck until its back doors are opened to reveal an interior evoking the feeling of a palazzo, complete with illuminated floor. “While deciding where I should exhibit I thought ‘what about everywhere?” said Broom about his roving exhibition. “My designs are often surreal and the idea behind the installation is to see something unexpected – a captivating optical illusion.”

12–15 April
Various locations, including Brera Design District, Spazio Rossana Orlandi, ZonaTortona, San Gregorio Docet and Ventura Lambrate

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TOM DIXON x CAESERSTONE

All images © Caeserstone

For Tom Dixon’s second collaboration with quartz manufacturer Caesarstone, British designer Tom Dixon created ‘The Restaurant’, a multi-sensory installation consisting of four kitchens made from Caesarstone products, each inspired by a different element: earth, wind, fire and water. Italian food design studio Arabeschi di Latte will be creating conceptual feasts in a theatrical, interactive manner, cooking according to scientific methods. We hear the menu will include vegetables cooked in hay boxes and whipped meringues.

12–17 April
La Rotonda della Besana, via Enrico Besana 12, 20122 Milano

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ATELIER BIAGETTI: NO SEX

All images © Atelier Biagetti

In the wake of their successful ‘Body Building’ exhibition at last year’s Salone del Mobile, Milan-based studio Atelier Biagetti returns with a conceptual collection, teasered by a short film. Known for bringing a new sense of delight to everyday things through the use of high quality craft and materials, this year the studio turns their attention to sex and its provocative status in society. “‘No Sex’ reflects our personal answer to the multi-faceted idea of sex in contemporary life. Or more aptly the perception of it,’ says Biagetti of the project. ‘We imagined a sort of pink-clinic […] a place to re-establish your inner equilibrium regarding that traditionally taboo subject of sex.” The exhibition is set to include live performances and costume design as well as furniture.

12–17 April 2016
Piazza Arcole, 4, 20143 Milano

“‘No Sex’ reflects our personal answer to the multi-faceted idea of sex in contemporary life."
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